Food: 5 Frittatas for Lunchboxes

One of my go-to lunchbox fillers is a frittata. High in protein from the eggs, they are super filling and can be completely adjusted to your tastes. Whether you want them to be lightened up and full of healthier ingredients, or go all out indulgent with plenty of cheese and potato, a frittata works well! They can also be pretty budget friendly, using up all the odds and ends in your fridge – although of course you could make the mother of all frittatas and add in some spendy ingredients such as smoked salmon…

I tend to have my go-to ‘base’ recipe for making a frittata, honed after far too many that were burnt on the botton, too solid, too liquidy, frittatas that were solid enough to use as a weapon, frittatas that fell apart before they even got to the office. You’ll need an oven-proof frying pan (mine is around 21 cm) for these recipes, though you could possibly oven-bake the whole thing in a dish.

Base Recipe (I usually cut the frittata into 3, unless it’s particularly carb/cheese heavy)

  • 1 tbsp butter (around 15g) or 1 tbsp oil
  • 6 eggs
  • 50ml milk

Generally, I’ll fry all my filling ingredients lightly in the oil/butter, before beating together the eggs, milk and parmesan with plenty of pepper and adding to the pan. I’ll keep on the hob for around 5 minutes on a low heat, then oven cook at 200C for 8-12 minutes or until cooked.

Potato, Shallot & Mozzarella

This is comfort food at it’s finest, and it’s blimmin’ delish! It’s from a fairly recent edition of Delicious Magazine so I can’t link it, but essentially sliced potatoes are fried until golden (around 20 minutes) with some sliced shallots and garlic added for the final few minutes. Eggs and milk are then added with parmesan mixed in, then mozzarella is nestled on top. Before oven-cooking a little more parmesan is sprinkled on top. Best served with a big salad as this one is super hearty!

Kale, Red Onion & Feta

This is my go-to low carb option, inspired by this BBCGoodFood recipe. Simply fry 2 red onions in a little oil until soft (I sometimes add a pinch on dried thyme), before adding around 3 handfuls of shredded kale. Stir fry for a couple of minutes, then add 2tbsp of balsamic and plenty of seasoning. Add your egg/milk mixture (I usually add 8 eggs for this one), then allow to cook on the hob for 5 minutes. Sprinkle generously with some crumbled feta, then bake for around 10 minutes.

Chorizo, Potato, Red Pepper & Feta

This is perfect picnic food, and my favourite way of using up leftover new potatoes (I always cook too many!). Simply fry some cubed chorizo in a dry pan until it releases its oils. Add some sliced cooked new potatoes, and try until starting to crisp slightly. Throw some roasted red pepper in, stir to combine, then add in your egg/milk mixture with some paprika (around 1/4 tsp). Cook for 5 minutes on the hob, then sprinkle with plenty of feta and bake for around 10 minutes. It’s also cook spiced up with some chopped chilli…

You can find my full recipe here.

Onion Bhaji

This one is the only one which I don’t think lasts quite as long – the others will happily sit in the fridge for 3 or 4 days, but this one does tend to go a bit grey after the second day. I’m thinking about making individual muffins instead so I can halve the recipe, but it’s not quite working out… Follow the recipe here, but I reduce the potato a little and add 1/2 tsp each of ground cumin, coriander, and turmeric as well as the curry powder.

Spaghetti, Spinach, Courgette & Pesto

This is my new favourite – so yum! It’s super filling so I usually only manage a quarter of it in my lunchbox with some extra salad, which makes it pretty thrifty. It’s slightly more mess-making than the others as it involves a couple of stages, but it’s well worth it.

First off, cook 150g spaghetti until just al dente (around 8 minutes). Drain and run under the cold tap to cool before setting aside. Blanch some spinach (I use 3 handfuls) by placing in a sieve and pouring over boiling water. Run under the cold tap to cool, then squeeze out the excess liquid and add to the spaghetti. Coarsely grate 2 medium courgettes, and squeeze out the excess water. Fry for 5 minutes with a little olive oil and 1 sliced garlic clove. Discard the garlic and add the courgette to the spaghetti/spinach along with 2 tsp of pesto. Stir together well. Meanwhile beat together the 6 eggs and 50ml milk with plenty of black pepper and 50g parmesan. Add this to the spaghetti and vegetables and use your hands to mix well. Melt a little butter in an oven proof frying pan, then add the egg-pasta mixture. Cook for 5 or so minutes until set on bottom, sprinkle with extra parmesan, then back until cooked. Yum!

What’s your go-to lunchbox filler?

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Recipe: Red Onion & Goat’s Cheese Quiche

Quiche was always something that intimidated me. It just seemed so complicated – baking pastry, prepping a filling, making a basic egg custard mix. A lot of work and, in all honest, I’d never enjoyed the shop-bought ones I’d tried so why bother?

Well, it would seem I’ve been missing out all this time!

When we decided a bit foolishly to cater most of our engagement party way back in Summer’16 we made two quiches (on the morning of the party). One was a Quiche Lorraine which was absolutely delicious and something I really need to make again ASAP. The other was this one. This is what started my love affair with goat’s cheese off, and what a way to begin an infatuation.

Crisp, buttery pastry (I’ll be posting a recipe soon, but you’ll be pleased to know it works just as well with ready-made, ready-rolled stuff – because sometimes life is just too short). Sweet red onions, caramelised with just a little bit of a bite. Punchy goat’s cheese. Soft and juuussssstttttt set egg filling, lightly infused with thyme and almost spicy with black pepper. Yep, it’s as delicious as it sounds.

And bonus. I discovered you don’t need to faff around making any type of custard for quiches. Game changer.

Recipe (makes 6 servings generous to eat alone with a side salad, more if serving with new potatoes or as part of a buffet – based on a Donal Skehan recipe)

  • 25g butter
  • 3 large red onions, sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 4 medium eggs
  • 300ml double cream
  • 150g soft curd goat’s cheese
  • 2-3 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only

If you’re making your own pastry (this recipe is a good basic one) then do this first, then place in the fridge. Roll out (or use shop-bought!) and use to line a 23cm tart tin – place back in the fridge whilst you wait for the over to reach 190C. Pop a baking tin (large enough to fit the tart tin) in the oven whilst it warms. Once up to temperature, line the pastry with greasproof, fill with baking beans, pop onto the hot tray and bake for 10 minutes. Remove the beans and greaseproof (they will be insanely hot), turn the oven down to 180C and bake for another 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

To make the filling, heat the butter and a pinch of salt in your largest frying pan, add the red onions and the dried thyme and fry over a low-medium heat for 10-15 minutes until soft and caramelised. Season with plenty of black pepper, then allow to cool.

Whisk the eggs and cream together until just combined. Stir through around 25g of the goat’s cheese. Arrange the onions on the base of the pastry case, scatter over spoonfuls of the goats cheese (try and disperse this evenly, or you’ll be fighting over the cheesiest slice!) and season a little more. Gently pour the egg and cream mixture into the pastry case, sprinkle with the fresh thyme and bake in the oven for 30 minutes until the filling is set. I sometimes like to be extra naughty and sprinkle a little grated parmesan over the top for the final five minutes, just to add an extra golden colour.

Allow to cool, then serve warm (not hot!) or cold. It’s wonderful on it’s own with a simple salad of leaves and raw beetroot, alongside new potatoes or simply as part of a picnic or buffet. Oh, it sits nicely in the fridge for 2-3 days so is perfect for a meat-free Monday dinner and a couple of lunches.

An indulgent recipe for sure, but what’s life without a bit of tasty, cheese goodness?!

Have you ever made your own quiche?

Recipe: Asian Quinoa Salad

Healthy and exciting lunchboxes. It’s one of the things I really struggle with; finding things to eat at work that are filling, nourishing, cheap, last a couple of days in the fridge and are genuinely yummy. I don’t particularly enjoy sandwiches (all too often they are soggy and squashed after a few hours in my bag) and I *refuse* to spend £6+ on eating out every day, no matter how good my Instagram feed would look.

 photo Asian Quinoa Salad_zpsq1lyns43.jpgThere’s nothing worse than a disappointing lunch, and I guarantee than a poor midday meal with leave me in a grump alllllll afternoon. A box full of this, however, is pretty sure to put a smile on my face. It’s basically a more colourful and substantial version of my Asian Satay Salad, which makes it perfect for the cooler weather. The quinoa bulks it out without making me feel heavy, bloated and ready for a nap, whilst the red cabbage just looks so pretty. Raw sugarsnap peas are a revelation for me too – soooo much tastier than cooked.

This is super-easy to adapt too. Toss through leftover roast chicken, serve as part of a picnic. I quite like cooked and cooled soy beans stirred through too, and I imagine a fresh pepper would make an awesome addition (I’d be wary about adding it if you’re picking at this throughout the week, I find the pepper-y taste can transfer a bit). No spring onions? Use a normal onion (pop it into a sieve and pour over boiling water to take away the harsh raw-onion taste). No red cabbage? Just slice up whatever cabbage you have – it just won’t look as colourful. And of course you could switch out quinoa for whichever grain you fancy. I’m also planning on trying a version made with noodles sometime soon!

 photo Asian Quinoa Salad5_zpskz4hqj3p.jpg photo Asian Quinoa Salad3_zpsnczfccrz.jpgRecipe (makes 5-6 servings, baked on a Cookie & Kate recipe)

  • Quinoa, I followed the measurement on the packet to make 4 portions
  • ½ purple cabbage
  • 3 carrots
  • ½ packet sugar snap peas
  • 1 small packet of coriander
  • 4-5 spring onions
  • 1 thumb size piece of ginger
  • 1 red chilli (deseeded if you don’t fancy it too hot)
  • 3 tablespoons of peanut butter
  • 5 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 2 limes (zest and juice)
  • 1 small handful of nuts, to serve

Cook the quinoa, following the packet instructions, and leave it to cool. I like to fluff it up with a fork a few times whilst cooling. Meanwhile prep the salad – finely slice the red cabbage, spiralise (or slice) the carrots, slice the sugarsnap peas lengthways, slice the spring onions and roughly chop the coriander. Pop into a large Tupperware box and mix through the cooled quinoa.

Then make the dressing: finely chop the ginger and chilli. Mix together with the soy, honey and sesame oil, then slowly add the soy and fish sauce until smooth. Add in the lime zest and juice, mix well and pop into a jar. I’d advise not refrigerating (just keep in a cool place) as otherwise the peanut butter makes it a bit solid!

In the morning, pop a portion of the quinoa/veg mix into your lunchbox and stir through a few spoonfuls of the dressing. I’d keep it out of the fridge until lunchtime, no-one wants fridge-cold quinoa… When just about to eat top with a handful of nuts, if you like.

 photo Asian Quinoa Salad4_zpsgijjuqz7.jpg photo Asian Quinoa Salad7_zpsiyerfhuz.jpgWhilst I don’t typically count calories (an obsessive personality means I tend to become focussed on continually reducing my intake), eating a big portion of this makes me feel healthy. I feel satisfied without being full, nourished without feeling deprived. And an added bonus? It can be eaten one-handed at my desk on really busy days. I can see myself eating a lot of this salad!

What’s your favourite take-to-work lunch?

Recipe: Super-Easy Homemade Falafel

Falafel are one of my absolute favourite things to eat, yet I’m supremely fussy about them. I have eaten some truly, truly dreadful falafel in the last few years (including one that had big chunks of apricot in – why?!). However the absolute worst falafel I’ve tried? It’s the ones I’ve made myself. They’ve always been overly mushy, never coming together, never crispy and just horribly bland.

 photo Falafel_zpsmxeqopix.jpgThat is, until now. This is inspired by a John Torode recipe from BBC Good Food. I’d made it a couple of times now, adapting as I go and now I’ve pretty much got it down to a fine art. Not only are these delicious, they are ridiculously easy to make. Sure, they take a bit of time (i.e. you need to remember to soak the chickpeas – tinned ones absolutely do not work and that is exactly why my attempts had always failed!), but once that’s done you can pretty much get them made in under half an hour. And if you want the process to be a little less hands on, along with a little healthier, you can even baked these instead of frying. Frying gives the best crispy texture, but the flavour is pretty much unaffected so if you’ve making these ahead for lunches I’d bake (and use the spare calories on chocolate).

Now, the flavour. It’s so much better than other falafel recipes I’ve made. The added vegetables add to the complex flavours, and I’ve added a spice mix which I love (though feel free to customise it). These are moist, but not mushy, they hold together without crumbling and have a slightly crispy outer. Pretty much my perfect falafel!

 photo Roots Collective Blends 3_zpsioqo0b5n.jpg photo Homemade Falafel 4_zpsqh8bwbqn.jpgIngredients

  • 125g dried chickpeas or dried split broad beans
  • 1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 small onion
  • 1/2 leek
  • 1/2 celery stick, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • a tiny pinch of cinnamon
  • good handful chopped coriander
  • 25g plain flour

Soak the chickpeas for at least 8 hours, or overnight (or do as I do if making them on a weeknight – soak them during the day.

Drain the chickpeas and pulse with the bicarbonate in a food processor (I use my mini food processor) until roughly chopped. Remove around half of the mixture and pop into a large bowl. Add the garlic, vegetables, spices and herbs to the remaining mixture in the processor and purée to a paste. Stir the paste into the rough purée of chickpeas, add the flour, season (these take plenty of salt) and mix well. I find it best to give the mixture a quick knead with my hands to make sure it’s all incorporated.

Take tablespoons of the mixture and form into balls before flattening – I tend to get 12-13 out of this quantity as I like my falafel slightly smaller.

If you’re frying the falafel, heat a large, non-stick frying pan over a medium heat and add some of the oil. Fry for 2-3 mins each side until crisp. Keep warm in a low oven while you fry the remainder of the mixture, continuing to add a little oil to the pan with each batch. Alternatively, place the falafel on greaseproof paper, spray with a little oil and bake at 180C for half an hour, turning once.

 photo Homemade Falafel 6_zpse4mmgjg6.jpgI like to serve mine with couscous and salad, but they are also reallllyyy good served as part of a meze platter (particularly with beetroot houmous!) or in homemade pitta bread. The perfect filling lunchbox!

Are you a fan of falafel? Have you ever made your own before?